Summer Fruit Abundance: Plants from Pits and Seeds
Posted Aug 06 2009 10:34pm
God spoke: "Earth, green up! Grow all varieties of seed-bearing plants, every sort of fruit-bearing tree." And there it was. Earth produced green seed-bearing plants, all varieties, and fruit-bearing trees of all sorts. God saw that it was good. It was evening, it was morning— Day Three. (Genesis 1:11-13 MSG)
Nearly every fruit is in season and available at most grocery stores this time of the year. It is the perfect time to experiment with exotic fruit tastes. It is also the perfect time to develop new plants from your fruit pits and seeds. Make tasting new fruits into a botany project for your children or grandchildren by watching creation in action.
"Any seed that comes into the kitchen and has not been cooked, pickled, or irradiated is fair game for growing." Peter Strauss, Beautiful Gardens Made Easy
Local peaches are at our farmers' market right now. They are juicy and sweet. I'm saving some of the choicest pits to plant. It may take many years before the plants are big enough to fruit, but getting there is half the fun. One thing to remember about planting seeds from supermarket produce: hybrid plants are rampant in our food supply. It is unlikely the fruit that results from your kitchen gardening will be in any way identical to the fruit you purchased, other than the obvious (peach pits produce peaches). Your best chance of getting identical fruit is to buy heirloom fruit.
The basics of gardening apply when starting plants from pits and seeds. Provide adequate sunlight, warmth, and consistent moisture. This time of the year you can start your new plants in the kitchen window. When the weather cools, move the potted plants to an area free of drafts and place under a grow light during the day. Plants grown from local produce should be able to withstand your area's climate conditions and can be planted outside come next spring.
Avocado ( Persea americana ). Take the pit from a very ripe fruit. Do not cut the seed. Support on toothpicks in a glass of water to sprout with the tip exposed to light. Keep warm and moist. After two or three leaves form, transplant into a pot and pinch out the tip to encourage a bushy plant with numerous branches.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon). Choose a few shoots that already have roots growing from them or soak the shoots in water until roots form. Plant the rooted shoots in potting mix in a big pot. This clump-forming plant can grow quite large. The leaves of the shoots will flop over at first, but once the plant is well established, they will stand up. In a sunny location, your lemongrass could grow 3 to 5 feet tall. It needs lots of water and warmth.
Mango (Mangifera). Remove as much flesh from around the seed as possible. Soak the seed in water for 2 to 3 days. After the tough outer husk has softened, pry it open and remove the inner seed. Plant it to the depth of its own thickness in moist seed-starting mix. Place in a warm spot; the seed usually germinates in 3 to 4 weeks. The plant craves warmth and sunlight; avoid frosty windows and cold drafts.
Pineapple ( Ananas comosus ). Cut off the leaf rosette at the top of a ripe fruit, leaving a little of the fruit at the base. Air-dry overnight, then snuggle the base into moist potting soil. Provide warmth and full sun. it will reach fruiting size in 2 years.
Sweet Potato ( Ipomoea batatas ). Suspend a sweet potato in water by inserting toothpicks around the middle. Place in a bright window in full sun. Add water as the level goes down. The plant looks lovely in a pretty stemmed glass or a fun cup.
Citrus fruits (Citrus spp.), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Date (Phoenix dactylifera), Pomegranate ( Punica granatum), Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis), and many more. Experiment and enjoy. If you don't have success with one type, throw it in the compost bin and try another. But don't give up too quickly. Sometimes these plants require a little patience while you wait for them to sprout.